Recently I looked at a grouping of Atlanta Braves jerseys from the 1960s-1980s. I thought it might be worthwhile to share some things for those Atlanta fans out there. The jerseys are also worth noting even if you don’t collect the Braves because of what they offer and the teaching point it presents us with today.
The three jerseys that we will cover are:
-1966 Joe Torre Braves home jersey
-1969 Orlando Cepeda Braves road jersey
-1983 Dale Murphy Road jersey
The 1966 Joe Torre home jersey was the easiest of the three to substantiate an opinion on. Notice I used the word substantiate and not form. While it is very easy to form an opinion on something, that is not what this industry should be expecting from those that authenticate items. Since that could be an entire article, I’ll stick to the topics at hand.
The things that led the Torre jersey to being deemed Unable to Authenticate were obvious to me. However, I had to assume that the person who currently owns this jersey was not aware of the problems or they would not have acquired it or sent it in. I would also have to assume they are not only ones who might not be able to identify what to look for. This brings us to the framework of this article.
Over the years, I have found that problematic issues can generally be categorized into one of three types. These types are not mutually exclusive to flannels, knits or even jerseys. There are:
Type I: Those that can be identified through imagery analysis.
Type II: Those that can be identified through comparison with exemplars or related data.
Type III: Those that can be identified as stand alone issues or problems that do not require any sort of comparative analysis.
Right off the bat, this tells me I have to have multiple ways to answer my questions since there are multiple types of problems. As an intelligence analyst, this is nothing new as we are trained to develop a multi-discipline approach with respect to our problem solving.
I have categorized these problem sets as such because they are directly related to what is required in identifying them.
The Type I issues require access to relevant images. No great surprise here. The key is making sure you have access to images that fit what you are trying to find as a function of what you collect or are considering purchasing.
The Type II issues require access to known and confirmed “good exemplars.” This does not include access to images of shirts thought to be good as that is imagery analysis. What I am referring to is access to real product. This is very tough, especially for newer collectors.
The Type III issues require knowledge of what to look for with an attention to detail. If have the ability to spot Type I and Type II issues, then over time the Type III issues become far easier to identify.
With this as our backdrop, let’s look at the 1966 Joe Torre Braves Atlanta Braves home jersey. (PLATES I-III)
Type I Problem: Incorrect numeric font style for both the front and back as confirmed by period images.
Type II Problem: Supplemental player/year-set identification was not consistent with period exemplars by construction and by composition of materials used.
Type III Problem: Period correct patch was present, but was not original to the jersey based on the outline of previous sewing.
What I am suggesting here is, before you really begin collecting anything in earnest, make sure you are prepared and equipped to work through these various problem sets. If you are just starting out, then I would recommend working with someone who is prepared. Folks, this is not simply the guy who says, “well I’ve been colleting this stuff for years.” Find people or collectors who can objectively work along the lines we are discussing.
The next jersey on our list is a 1969 Orlando Cepeda Atlanta Braves home jersey. (PLATES IV-V) Its value to us with respect to this article is demonstrating the concept of a multi-discipline approach to add value to the process. This in turn adds value to the item when it can be demonstrated objectively.
What I liked about the Cepeda, among other things, was the sleeve length. Any time you can identify and document a player characteristic or customization, it’s a fun thing and a great thing for the person who submitted the item.
This jersey featured set-in sleeves and these were shorter than what is typically found in period Wilson products. I knew this and was able to objectively show this because I had on-hand exemplars from the same period, manufacturer, and sleeve style to work with. At this point the sleeve length is neither a good nor a bad thing. Why? Because it all depends on what period images convey for analysis. In this case, I was able to find images of Cepeda from two relevant years, with two different ball clubs, in home and road uniforms with these above the bicep length cut sleeves. My point being as either a new collector or someone considering buying or bidding on an item like, would you rather take the work of the guy who simply offered “well I’ve been colleting this stuff for years” or have the ability to see and know these things for yourself. For my sake, I hope you see this as a rhetorical question.
Last on the list is a 1983 Dale Murphy Atlanta Braves road jersey. (PLATES VI-XI) This was the one that took me the most time to complete, but for reasons that might not be obvious. Those reasons relate directly to my responsibility to the person who submitted the item and my ability to perform a responsible multi-discipline evaluation. While I had some information to work from by leveraging previous evaluations performed by MEARS, I did not want to solely rely on that. It is not that I doubted the work, but wanted to ensure that as the person doing the actual work on this jersey, I could objectively make a case for any opinion I had.
I have a fairly solid baseball reference library, but it is focused more on flannel product as opposed to knits. As such, I had to order relevant references. E-Bay is a great help with things like this as it enables you to obtain material in an almost on-demand basis. All told, I spent around $50.00 on 15 publications to get 6 that were helpful. Before going any further, let’s put this $50.00 into perspective. The authentication fee for this jersey is around $200.00. The value of a non-problematic 1983 Dale Murphy Atlanta Braves road jersey is probably in the $3-$4,000.00 range. The cost to MEARS to send this jersey to me and for me to send it back is around $50.00.
In this case, we spent at least half of the fee in order to get it right. The actual profit to MEARS on this jersey is far less than the remaining $100.00 when you factor in that a portion of this and each item we evaluate has to pay for photography, letter preparation and processing. Additionally, each item we look at has to pay for a % of the costs associated with off setting the operating expenses for the organization (mortgage, insurance, utilities, supplies, etc). Whatever profit was realized on this item must be measured against the fact that MEARS is potentially on the hook for a $3-$4,000.00 item for a comparatively minimal return. I only bother to address this as it underscores a point I have been making for years, that being that responsible and objective authentication is not the cash cow that most might think it is.
Getting back to the jersey and issue at hand, the $50.00 I spent was instrumental in saving someone $3,000-$4,000.00. Hopefully it is the current owner, and definitely my own organization. The teaching point is that investing even a small amount and time and money are essential no matter what your role is; authenticator, auction house, or collector. The images I was able to obtain and use enabled me to see problems with the nameplate and the year identification for myself. This means I could then convey that same information in an objective and defendable manner. This is the standard you should set for yourself when either looking to do the work on your own or in seeking out others to assist you.
The items we collect come in all types and that’s part of the fun. The problems they have in common and the ways we solve them are much more defined. Consider thinking about all of this along the TYPE I, TYPE II, and TYPE III construct offered here. If you have an item that would like help or advice on how to go about researching it, I am always happy to help where I can.
As always, enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy even more.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free top drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com